Maternity hospitals in Ireland are experiencing “difficulty” providing abortions because so many staff object to killing unborn babies, an Irish medical leader said this week.
Abortions became legal on Jan. 1 in Ireland, ending decades of laws protecting unborn babies’ lives. The law, which was rammed through parliament in December, allows abortions for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances. It also forces taxpayers to pay for abortions and forces Catholic hospitals to provide them.
The new law strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals, and hundreds of doctors and nurses fear being forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs.
Many have been objecting anyway, according to a new report from The London Times.
Cliona Murphy, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Ireland, told The Times that some hospitals have been struggling to find enough staff to help with abortions.
Here’s more from the report:
She said some doctors were “frustrated” with operational issues, including a shortage of staff. “You need a certain core number of people willing to do those procedures, and also nursing staff willing to assist. In some hospitals, that has been difficult because not everybody is happy,” she said.
Coombe Hospital has previously said it would not be able to provide abortion services by January, and had appealed to the government to delay their introduction until February or March.
The Times understands there had been problems with smaller hospitals with a significant proportion of staff objecting to abortion. The HSE has declined to say how many of the ten hospitals not yet providing abortion services are unable to do so because of conscientious objections.
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It is unclear how many unborn babies have been aborted in Ireland so far this year.
Fewer than 5 percent of doctors in Ireland have told the government that they are willing to abort unborn babies, meaning 95 percent of doctors are not willing. While abortion activists blame a fear of pro-life protests for the lack of abortionists, the more likely reason is that most doctors do not think killing a human being should be part of the medical profession.
Earlier this week, health officials said all 19 maternity hospitals in Ireland are providing abortion services in some capacity, as is required by law, The Irish Times reported.
Leading medical groups in Ireland also have raised major concerns about women’s safety.
“We did have a very short interval. There were reasons for that, where people did want the service up and running, but for practitioners they would feel that that was very short to bring in such a large change,” Murphy said this week.
Other leading medical organizations have been more blunt, calling the push to begin abortions Jan. 1 unsafe and politically motivated.
“The National Association of GPs believes that the rushed manner in which termination of pregnancy services are being introduced is unacceptable and unsafe,” it said in a statement last month. “The women of Ireland will not forgive the health system, if an unsafe service is brought in, for the sake of political expediency.”
Other leading medical professionals also have said the premature start date could put women’s lives at risk. Many hospitals have said they are not ready to begin abortions. They point to a lack of ultrasound machines, clinical guidelines and trained staff as reasons why the government should have delayed legalizing abortion.
Doctors also criticized government guidelines that allow girls ages 15 and under to abort their unborn babies without their parents’ knowledge or consent. One doctor accused the minister for health of taking “leave of his senses” by allowing this